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Hello, I rescued two dogs (sisters) about a year ago when they were approximately 7 months old. They lived together in an industrial dump site. Over the last year I have spend a lot of time teaching them how to live in a house with kids, cats, etc. They have done remarkable. Our biggest hurdles, or so I thought, was potty training and property destruction.

They have always been on "high alert," always looking for something to chase when outdoors. I do not have a fenced in yard so they go on multiple walks per day. They have drug me to the ground in attempts to reach squirrels, rabbits etc. They even broke my leg by dragging me down a flight of stairs.

One of the dogs is reliable off leash so we take her to run the acres of land at our campground to burn off energy. She is a successful killer of wildlife (several groundhogs, a skunk, rabbits). I really don't want her to continue decimating wildlife.

My question - can you remove or tame a dog with a high prey drive?

Thanks.
 

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Remove prey drive? No. Not possible. Dogs are predators, removing prey drive would be like removing the desire to fly from birds.

Tame? Sure. First of all, invest in some front clip harnesses so they can't pull you over anymore. Second, stop letting the one dog off leash. You know what he'll do.

After that, and you'll have to do this separately with each dog, you need to teach the dog to look at you on command. Get this 100%, then figure out the point where the dog is looking at prey, but hasn't completely focused yet. There's a certain tail angle, ear tilt, tensity to them you'll learn to recognize. Get them to look at you. Give them high value, awesome treat. I did this 4 walks per day for 2 months and now my dog looks at me as soon as he sees a squirrel, rabbit, etc.

However, if they get over threshold into being completely focused on the prey, do not try a look at me. They won't listen. Try again next time.
 

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I'm also going to recommend a nice sturdy head halter IF the front clip harness doesn't work, with metal fastenings instead of the plastic snaps that the ones at petco have. I do not trust those cheap plastic snaps after they broke twice. It'll be more like a horse's halter and works pretty much the same way. A dog cant and won't try to charge and run off if its head is being controlled.
 

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I second what's been stated -- get a head collar or front attach harness, I think a head collar may be better in this case. Work a lot on "look at me" w tasty treats when there's prey around but she hasn't crossed the threshold yet. Solidify your "look at me" command before you test it around prey though.
If she kills things off leash and you really want her to stop killing things you may have to stop letting her off leash. Personally, off leash running time is very important to me, so unless she was actually eating what she killed and it was making her sick, I would probably continue letting her run. Maybe you could work on improving recall but there's only so much you can do as once a dog w high drive gets after prey all recall goes out the window, I know from experience.
Best of luck.
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Just a word of warning, head collars are not good for all dogs. I think they are good tools for some dogs. For example, my mom's 110 pound akita mix does very well on a head collar because he's very mellow and never does anything that could risk his neck. He's just more comfortable to walk with one because he is very large. However, my dog Harvey is fine with a head collar until he sees another dog (he is reactive). Having his head restrained in this situation causes him to thrash and struggle, and I fear he will injure his neck (which is why I don't use one on him anymore).

So I don't necessarily agree that a dog won't try to charge when its head is restrained, because mine will and it is a risk to the dogs neck.

Also, if she doesn't eat what she kills, that doesn't mean it isn't a problem. Generally it's not good to allow your pet to destroy wildlife for many reasons.
 

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channel the prey drive into a constructive activity. flirtpole, fetch, tug, etc. nosework, things that will stimulate their minds will help you more with teaching them to walk on a loose leash than training a lone. you might try taking them out on long lines and playing these games with them. work on loose leash walking, they have to be taught and unfortunately it sounds like you haven't put enough into that part of their training and they have developed some poor habits.

i ditto the caution against head collars. i do use them with both of my dogs but i spent weeks conditioning my dogs to be comfortable wearing them and i'm very careful to use a double ended leash so that the full force of a pull isn't put on the head collar.



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